Paleo Eggplant Lasagna (w/ Vegan Option)

People always ask me what I miss most from my gluten days. The truth is, I don’t miss much. As hard as it is for some to believe, I can easily replace anything I miss. I truly believe you can make a healthier version of any dish, and magically, it tastes even better than the unhealthy version. Real food always tastes better.


Take pasta, for example. I used to be a huuuuuge pasta girl. I think I ate pasta almost every single day of the first 18 years of my life. Italian food is divine. I realize now that it wasn’t the noodles themselves that I loved. I can make zucchini noodles, kelp noodles, or spaghetti squash to replace the noodles, and then I can use real food to create the delicious tastes that truly made the dish delicious.

I think lasagnas are one of those things that everyone holds near and dear to their heart. Lasagna reminds me of family. Growing up, lasagna was served at most of my family holidays and special occasions. It’s hearty, filling, warm, and comforting. Plus, it’s a great way to feed a lot of people at once. Always a crowd-pleaser.

This year was no different. For Christmas, the main dish was lasagna. Since I always bring my own meals to holidays and I didn’t know what to make, I decided to just make my own lasagna. You know, blend in with the crowd.

There are a lot of variations on paleo lasagna, and I’ve been playing around with different versions over the past few months to figure out my favorite. I have an obsession with zucchini lasagna and always order it if I see it on a menu. The problem I have, though, is that sometimes the zucchini doesn’t get soft enough to truly mimic that pasta-like texture. For Thanksgiving this year, I made a zucchini/eggplant lasagna, and I realized that it would have been even better if it was all eggplant. So for Christmas, I went all out eggplant. Hence, this beautiful creation came into existence.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas dinner, to be honest. I am ADDICTED to this thing. Even though a big lasagna takes prep time, it’s worth it when it means you’ll have enough food for a week. I ate this for almost every single meal the week after Christmas. I definitely didn’t get sick of it, and I shed a small tear when I ate that last corner square. So sad.

This is incredible straight outta the oven, but you can reheat it over and over again and it will still taste amazing. Sometimes I think it might be even better as time goes on, because all of the flavors soak into each other with more time. Lasagna is so satisfying because you’ve got a million things going on. That’s the key to satiety – hitting different textures and flavors in one meal. Soft eggplant, melty (fake) cheese, rich meat sauce, greens, mushrooms…. the works.

Diving into a big bowl of this is just so…comforting. Homey. It reminds me how amazing real food is, especially because (sorry mom), it’s my favorite lasagna I’ve ever had.

Like I mentioned before, one of the things I love most about lasagna is that there are so many different ways you can do it. Let’s talk about what I did and how you can modify it. I made a paleo, gluten-free, grain-free lasagna, but this can easily be modified to be vegan.

First of all, I made a meaty red sauce using grass-fed beef. If you don’t eat grass-fed beef, you could also sub in ground turkey or ground chicken. If you don’t eat animal products, you could make walnut meat, or you could leave it out and just use the red sauce as a marinara! There are plenty of layers, trust me.

The other thing that you can modify is the cheese! I did two layers – one layer of walnut cheese and one layer of Kite Hill Ricotta. I love having two different cheeses – makes things interesting! You could do a  lot of different things here. If you don’t want to bother making nut cheese, you could do two layers of the Kite Hill Ricotta. If you don’t want the Kite Hill, you could do two layers of walnut cheese, or you could use cashew cheese! OR you could do one layer of cashew cheese with one layer of walnut cheese. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. No limits.

You could also sub out the greens. I used spinach, but I think that kale or arugula would also taste amazing. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong.

This is the perfect meal prep dish, or the perfect potluck item. It makes A LOT, and it’s filling. It’s also extremely healthy. Put in some time on a Sunday, and the rest of the week all you gotta do is cut out a square and heat it up. I could seriously eat this over and over again, forever.             

Paleo Eggplant Lasagna with Walnut Cheese (Vegan Option)

Serves: 10-12

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time:  1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

Lasagna:
  • 1 jar Thrive Market marinara or Rao’s Marinara
  • 3 large eggplants
  • 8 oz organic sliced crimini mushrooms (1 container)
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef  (can sub ground turkey or ground chicken, or omit if vegan)
  • 6 cups organic spinach
  • (optional) 1 container Kite Hill Ricotta (I get mine from Whole Foods! You can also do two layers of walnut cheese or cashew cheese instead)

 

Walnut Cheese (optional):
  • 1 cup organic raw walnuts (soaked in filtered water for 2 hours)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt or celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cashew Cheese: (optional)
  • 1 cup cashews (soaked in filtered water for 2 hours if possible)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 clove fresh garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder

Instructions: 

Lasagna:
  1. Preheat oven to 375*F. Grease a 9×13 inch (3 quart) pan with coconut oil or avocado oil.
  2. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and rub coconut oil on each side of the slices. Bake the eggplant for 5 minutes on one side, flip the pieces over, and bake for another 5 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven.
  4. While the eggplant is baking, grease a pan with coconut oil and cook the ground beef on the stove. Sprinkle a little pink salt on top. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until there is no more pink in the meat.
  5. After the meat is cooked, drain any liquid from the pan. While the pan is on low heat, add 1 jar of marinara sauce to the pan, and mix the marinara with the cooked meat. Remove from heat after well incorporated.
  6. While the meat and eggplant are cooking, you can make your walnut cheese. (Or cashew cheese. Or both. Instructions are below.)
  7. After the eggplant slices have been cooked and you’re done with the meat sauce, it’s time to start layering! Start with a layer of eggplant slices at the bottom of your greased lasagna pan.
  8. Next, create a layer of marinara/meat sauce. Use about half of what you cooked.
  9. Sprinkle about 3 cups of spinach on top of the meat sauce layer. Next, create a layer of mushrooms (you can use the whole container here).
  10. On top of the mushrooms, add your cheese of choice. You can use the walnut cheese, cashew cheese, or Kite Hill Ricotta. (I used walnut cheese.)
  11. Repeat the layers again, without the mushrooms. So add a layer of eggplant, then meat sauce, then spinach, and then your cheese of choice (I used Kite Hill Ricotta for the top layer.)
  12. Cook for 40-45 minutes in the oven, or until the top is slightly browned.
  13. Slice and enjoy!
  14. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered, for about a week!

Walnut/Cashew Cheese:
  1. Add all cheese ingredients to a food processor and process until blended together. If it’s too thick, you can add a little more filtered water.

I hope you guys enjoy this take on Paleo Eggplant Lasagna! It’s my favorite. It does take prep time, but it’s very worth it for how much food you get and how delicious it tastes. If you make this, let me know what cheese combos you use!